View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Emirates Entering New Year in Solidarity with Suffering

Celebration Cancellation
According to WAM (Dec.30th, 2008)

“The Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai has ordered the cancellation of all forms of celebrations marking the New Year in Dubai emirate.”

“According to Sheikh Mohammed's order, Dubai emirate will mark the New Year with a sombre tone as a token of solidarity with the Palestinian people in general and the Gaza strip in particular which is currently under the barrage Israeli's military fire.”

Clarifying What is Off and On
Throughout the last day of the year New Year celebration organizers and hotel managers were trying to rearrange their plans amid confusion over the extent of the order.

Many of the outside celebrations were cancelled, many hotel restaurants for whom this traditionally is a big night of the year were toning down celebrations by not providing music, dancing or fireworks.

An up-to-the-minute account of what was on and off in Dubai was being posted on TimeOutDubai.Com.

Around the UAE and Region
Some big name concerts like that with popstar Shakira, were still going ahead in Abu Dhabi.

Some other Arab states were also cancelling the usual New Year celebrations or staging a scaled down version.

Sheikh Mohammed’s Moral Leadership
The order from the Ruler of Dubai will have created problems and loss of revenue for organizers of celebrations and hotel managers yet Sheikh Mohammed has displayed deft timing, moral leadership and he has signalled that Dubai is not always about business and big records but seeking to be on the side of the suffering.

Newspaper advertisements said:
"While the world is celebrating the new year, the people of Gaza are going to welcome it with bombs, fire and blood. Let us affirm our solidarity with them."

“Emergency services inside the battered Palestinian Gaza enclave say that since Israel unleashed its wave of air strikes on Saturday at least 390 Palestinians, including 42 children, have been killed and 1,900 wounded.”

“During the same period, four people in Israel have been killed by rockets fired by militants in Gaza.”

While the Israeli response has again been disproportionate it has been a reaction to rockets being fired from Gaza by Hamas. Innocent people are being killed and wounded on both sides of this war.

The call to cancel celebrations offers a chance to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer and to call both sides to cease firing and work for peace in this new year.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: New Year Celebrations Cancelled in Dubai.